Friday, June 01, 2007

Natural Beauty

When my family lived in El Paso, in the mid-50s, one summer we took a vacation in Riodoso, New Mexico. We took my best friend, Linda, with us. Behind the wonderful house we rented, there was a full creek that we could hear at night as we were falling asleep.

One day, Linda, Forrest, and I were outside and decided to dam the creek so that we could call it "that dammed creek." We were moving rocks when Forrest, who was seven, spotted a wasps' nest in the weeds and threw his rock into it. The wasps poured out like buttermilk from a jug, heading straight for us. We all ran into the house, where Forrest cried and carried on and got lots of attention, while Linda and I, 12 year-olds refusing to be sissy, didn't complain at all until we were asked why we hadn't been stung as well. And then we disclosed that there were, even as we stood there being brave, wasps caught in our hair and still stinging us.

So, in the summer of '96 I went to visit Linda and her husband Bobby in Fairbanks. We found these wasps nests in the woods and Bobby picked them, and then packed them carefully in a large box* so that I could get them back to Juneau intact. As you can see, they are still attached to the twigs they were built on. The one on top, which reminds me of a sunflower, has been blown open by the wind and the one bottom right, is the most intact of the three. How could such a beautiful thing house such mean insects? I don't know, but when I look at them I am reminded of the walk in Fairbanks and don't think about being stung in New Mexico at all.

* I have almost never visited Fairbanks that I didn't come back with a large carboard carton -- what Bobby calls "new Alaskan luggage." And he's right, you can hardly fly anywhere in the state and not see people with cartons of things among the suitcases.


Joy Des Jardins said...

Those nests really are beautiful J. The thought of you three kids running into the house with a whole swarm of wasps flying after you....YIKES. It's right out of a movie. You were very brave indeed.

Deja Pseu said...

Wasps, OWWW!

Mary Lou said...

I too have a wasp nest in my house...empty of course and a snake skin also empty. I LOVe natural things!